What do CNN, ESPN, millions of bloggers around the world, every local news station, NPR, and random people have in common? They have all spent the last few weeks creating those “year-end lists.” You know the ones: Best moment of the year, saddest death of the year etc… Of course, since the end of 2009, also draws the 2000s to a close (if you count the years in the way that most people do), those year-end lists have become decade-end lists. I thought I could resist giving you the sportypolitics lists but, alas, I could not. So, as we count down the final hours of 2009, I hope you enjoy my list of moments I felt the desire to highlight.
Decade’s defining moment: The attacks of 9/11/2001
Sports or politics, there really is no question that the events of that Tuesday morning defined the decade. We are still feeling repercussions from those attacks and we are a fundamentally different society because of them. Thousands of people lost their lives that day and many more have been killed in the wars that the attacks spawned. The attacks brought the world together but the choices that followed splintered us again. We lost the illusion (however foolish it was) of being safe on our own soil and, as we saw on Christmas Day, there are still many out there who are willing to give up their life to kill Americans. As we move into the next decade, it is critical we find a way to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan and continue to rebuild our image in the world. Otherwise the defining moment of this decade will become the defining moment of the next decade and so on.
Defining struggle of the decade: The economy
One could certainly make an argument for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the fallout from the recession we have been mired in gets my vote. Greed and poor choices led to the near collapse of our Economic system and cost many people their jobs. With the unemployment rate above 10%, we once again saw that the consequences of decisions by those at the top are felt most dramatically by workers. It is a real shame that so many of those who made the decisions (or allowed the decisions to be made) have had so little interest in being a part of the solution. Greed is a powerful force and people like Anastasia Kelly who resigned from the disgraceful company AIG because she was upset at only making $500,000 (and will pocket several million dollars in severance pay because she left for ‘good reason’ show how few lessons those top decision-makers have learned. The economy affects all of us and, while I think the Obama administration has taken strong steps to avert disaster and get us on the right track, jobs must come back for his work to be considered a success.
Now for some happier news…
Baseball team of the decade: The Boston Red Sox
I certainly could be accused of being a homer for this pick, but I feel pretty strongly about it. Yes, the Yankees had more wins. Yes, both teams won two World Series. But the way in which the Red Sox turned their team around and, in doing so, re-energized their fan base, gives them the edge. They maximized revenue from their ballpark, developed some really strong players, spent money when they needed to, and are really well-positioned for future seasons.
Football team of the decade: I don’t know
This is a really really tough one. Arguments could be made for the Pittsburgh Steelers (although their collapse and the fact that they may not make the playoffs this year argue against them), the Indianapolis Colts or the New England Patriots. To me, a lot depends on who wins the Super Bowl this season. If the Pats win, they are the team of the decade. If the Colts win, then they are. If neither wins, I think the nod goes to New England, but it is mighty close. Colts vs. Patriots is one of the best matchups of this decade and they sure have played some memorable games.
Basketball team of the decade: The Los Angeles Lakers
They didn’t have the most wins. They didn’t have the best winning percentage. They didn’t even have the most memorable championship (the Celtics get credit for that). But they were the most dominant and they were the team to beat in this decade.
Hockey team of the decade: The Detroit Red Wings
It’s not even really close. Sure, you could make an argument for the NJ Devils, but you would be wasting your time.
Sports city of the decade: Boston
These are incredible times to be a Boston sports fan. From the Red Sox (2 world series) to the Celtics (1 championship) to the Patriots (3 SB championships plus an almost perfect season) to the Bruins to the college teams we have winners everywhere you look. 6 parades in 10 years…pretty incredible. Add to that the hockey championships won by BU and BC and you have a pretty successful decade. Think about the transformation in the Boston sports scene over the last 10 years. In 2000 no one really cared about Boston. We hadn’t won in years and things weren’t looking too promising. Fast forward to today and we are called “arrogant,” “spoiled,” “cheaters,” and “obnoxious.” Such hatred is saved for winners, which is what Boston has become over the past decade.
Sports story of the decade: Cheating
From steroids to videotaping, this decade will be known as the one where fans were forced to confront the fact that our athletic heroes willingly and knowingly broke the rules to achieve greatness. Hopefully, with so much now out in the open, we can have faith that the sports legends of the future will get to the top legally.
Society’s story of the decade Lack of personal contact
In some ways Google’s IPA in 2004 is a defining moment for our society. From Myspace and Linkedin (2003) to Facebook and Twitter (2006)…from smartphones to ipods and email to online cards to blogging, this decade has been given us the tools to be constantly in touch without ever having to actually speak. Communication means something very different than it did 10 years ago and everyone, from retailers to relatives are having to adjust. How we get and share information and build and maintain relationships has fundamentally changed and may be the most lasting societal change we have seen this decade.
I know there is a lot I haven’t touched on in this post. The deaths of groundbreakers like President Reagan, Senator Kennedy, Julia Child, Fred Rogers, Richard Pryor, June and Johnny Cash, Arthur Miller, Johnny Carson, Michael Jackson, and so many many more. The true heroism of our troops and Captain ‘Sully.’ The incredible elections of 2000, 2004 and 2008 (and the historic election of Barack Obama). We’ll see what 2010 and the next decade have in store.
Happy New Year and all the best for a wonderful 2010. Thank you for reading and may the coming year be filled with more smiles than frowns and more laughter than tears.
VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE
Ok, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the key races to watch today.
Virginia Governor’s Race: Creigh Deeds (D) vs. Bob McDonnell (R)
It is looking fairly likely that the Republicans will reclaim the Governor’s mansion in Virginia. This hard-fought and very expensive race has been trending McDonnell for the past two months. Looking at polls, if Deeds does in fact lose, he can point to three main factors that cost him this race.
1. The McDonnell campaign was perceived as much more personal. McDonnell was actually on camera in three times as many TV ads as Deeds was and this helped voters to get to know him and learn to trust him.
2. Obama, especially lately, stayed largely out of the race. As a result of that, and the fact that Deeds is not a great campaigner, the Democratic enthusiasm that we have seen in the last few VA elections ended up not materializing. Without that GOTV excitement, it is going to be very hard for Deeds to get the voters he needs to the polls. Those ‘new’ voters who pushed Obama over the top and who have helped Warner and Kaine in the past are likely going to stay home.
3. A Washington Post poll indicates that more than 60% of VA residents think Deeds has run a negative campaign, while only about 35% think McDonnell has. This perception (even though it is wrong) has helped McDonnell to be portrayed as a man of the people and Deeds as a whiny politician. In politics perception is everything and this perception is one factor in costing Deeds the race.
MY ENDORSEMENT: Despite his uphill climb, I am endorsing Creigh Deeds to be the next Governor of Virginia. I appreciate his dedication to creating educational opportunities and his liberal stance on most social issues. McDonnell, quite frankly, scares me because I don’t know who he really is. In a 1989 thesis, McDonnell argued, among other things that “government policy should favor married couples over ‘cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators;'” criticized the 1965 Supreme Court decision which legalized the use of birth control by married couples; and described working women and feminists as “detrimental” to a the family. Since then, he claims his positions have evolved (pointing to the fact that he “worked to include child day care in [1995 welfare reform legislation] so women would have greater freedom to work.” However, he also opposed an effort in 2006 that would expand the state’s nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and, aside from the 1995 bill has done little, if anything, to signal a clear shift in thinking. I can’t support someone who may (and probably does) still believe that discrimination is acceptable.
MY PREDICTION: McDonnell 55-45 win over Deeds.
New Jersey Governor’s Race: Jon Corzine (D) vs. Chris Christie (R) vs Chris Dagget (I)
Well this has been quite the nasty and intrigue-filled race. On the one side, you have a Democratic incumbent – a business man – who has made misstep after misstep (including failing to deliver on promises to ease tax burdens) in the Governor’s mansion and is extremely unpopular in the state. On the other side you have a former US attorney (appointed by George W. Bush) who is trying to make voters think that NJ is the only state having financial difficulties and is attempting to pin the responsibility of those financial struggles of the state on Corzine. And, to complicate matters, you have an independent candidate who is polling better than most independents do in states like NJ (a high of 20%) and who is focusing his campaign on the economic woes of the state but, unlike Christie, offering real solutions. Chris Dagget has shaken up this race to the point where his involvement may well cost Christie the race.
MY ENDORSEMENT: Christie has been long on critique and short on ideas and I am never a fan of that. This is a race that should have been much more lopsided in his favor, but he has failed time and time again to offer the real solutions that voters are demanding. With him out of the way, it comes to down Dagget or Corzine. I don’t agree with much of what has been written about Corzine being a complete failure for NJ. He was Governor in an extremely challenging environment and I applaud his steadfast commitment to public education and his restructuring of the Abbott school funding formulas. In addition, he has been a champion of the environment and has pushed for universal health coverage in his state. However, this missteps are too large to ignore and, with an opponent as bi-partisan (not just in name, but also in action), accomplished and smart as Dagget, I want to suggest my NJ friends cast their votes for the Independent candidate in the race and elect Chris Dagget to be the next Governor of New Jersey. With such a resistant legislature, Corzine may not be the best leader for the state – as a result a new voice may be needed if real progress is to be made. I believe Dagget can be that leader and that new voice. I don’t agree with everything he stands for, but I trust his ability to make the best decisions for the state and reform some of what ails NJ. If elected, I have faith that Governor Corzine will make better decisions for the state than he has in his first term. However, for the reasons discussed above, I am still endorsing Chris Dagget – not because he is an independent, but because he is the best person for the job
MY PREDICTION: This race should have been a landslide win for Chris Christie. However his ‘safe’ campaign, and the presence of Dagget to siphon off some of the anti-Corzine voters, will allow Corzine to keep his job and lead the state for another four years. I predict a final tally of 42-40 in favor of Corzine with Dagget taking around 10% of the vote.
New York 23rd Congressional District: Bill Owens (D) vs. Doug Hoffman (C)
This has been one of the most interesting Congressional races we have seen in a while. The Republican party put up Dede Scozzafava, a moderate Republican, as their candidate. However, the conservative wing of the party was so opposed to her that many of them rallied around Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate. With so much opposition Scozzafava made the decision, on Saturday, to drop out of the race. Her removal caused the RNC to reverse course and endorse Hoffman, while announcing that Scozzafava was releasing her supporters to vote for Hoffman. However, on Sunday, Dede released a statement, bucking her party, and announcing she was supporting Bill Owens (the Democrat) and suggested her supporters do the same. This has become a clear race between a moderate candidate and an extremely conservative one and it has raised many questions with far-reaching answers. If Hoffman can win, it will embolden conservatives across the country to challenge the moderate wing of their party and pull the party platform to the right. If Owens manages to win (and become the first Democrat to hold this seat in more than 100 years) it will be a confidence-booster for the Democrats and will establish them as the party of the left AND the middle. Either way, the ramifications will be extremely interesting to watch as we approach the mid-term elections.
MY ENDORSEMENT: No surprise that I am going to endorse Bill Owens for this seat. However, I am going to let Dede Scozzafava tell you why. “”I am supporting Bill Owens for Congress and urge you to do the same,” she said. “In Bill Owens, I see a sense of duty and integrity that will guide him beyond political partisanship. He will be an independent voice devoted to doing what is right for New York. Bill understands this district and its people, and when he represents us in Congress he will put our interests first.”
MY PREDICTION: I have no idea. This race could go either way depending on so many different factors. What will the turn-out be? How will Scozzafava supporters vote? Will they vote? Can Hoffman rally the conservative base around him? Can Owens tap into the moderate bloc and win their confidence? If forced to chose, I think Hoffman will barely win, but I have no faith, whatsoever, in that prediction.
Other races to watch:
Boston Mayor: Thomas Menino (D) vs. Michael Flaherty (D)
The most serious competition Menino has had since becoming Mayor, Flaherty has run a really good campaign. However, Menino is too popular and too good to lose and should win by 20 points. I do want to applaud Flaherty for bringing his primary opponent, Sam Yoon into his campaign – that action demonstrated a real ability to work with people you have disagreements with and made a strong impression.
Maine Votes on Gay Marriage:
Voters will be going to the polls to try to repeal the law passed earlier this year allowing same-sex marriage in Maine. If you live in Maine, please vote against the repeal so freedom of choice can be preserved.
New York Mayor: Michael Bloomberg (I) vs. Bill Thompson (D)
Uhh…like this will be close. Bloomberg by 30. I only put it here as an excuse for me to congratulate the Phillies on winning Game 5 and am hoping that one of Bloomberg’s once he is re-elected will be to watch the Yankees lose.
If you want more on all the races going on today, check out this great site in the New York Times.
REMEMBER TO VOTE TODAY
Quite simply the best thing on the radio is “Wait, wait…Don’t Tell Me” which airs every week on your local NPR station. It normally tapes in Chicago but, occasionally, they go on the road and tomorrow will be visiting Boston. My wonderful wife purchased tickets for it as an early birthday present for me and we are SO excited! If you like politics, laughing, entertainment or simply being entertained, this is the show for you. And now, they have a blog! Check it out and enjoy!
So let’s review what has happened since I started this blog 2 days ago:
1. Brett Favre came out of retirement AGAIN
2. Robert Novak and Don Hewitt (two news GIANTS) passed away
3. Afghanistan is holding elections against a backdrop of terrorist threats
4. The WONDERFUL Barney Frank fired back at those idiots who are trying to disrupt townhall meetings devoted to healthcare discussions. (I might have to write about this later, but for now just check out the video)
5. I found a bar in Boston that has a GREAT beer list and $1 Fenway Franks. Check out “Lower Depths.” You won’t regret it…I promise.
What’s a boy to write about???? Man, I thought this blog thing would be easy. And, I don’t mean to take credit for all these big news stories happening right after I started this thing, but…well the proof is in the pudding as they say.
Actually, as it turns out, I’m not going to write about any of those things. I want to talk about Senator Kennedy. The Boston Globe reported this morning that the Senator, who is battling brain cancer, sent a very personal, wistful letter to Governor Patrick, Senate President Murray and Speaker DeLeo asking them to consider changing the 2004 law and allow the Governor to appoint a new senator should the need arise. This would remove the 5 months between a vacancy and the special election to fill the seat. You can read the letter here.
I have two responses to this: